Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Terps take down Duke, share conference lead

What a great way for Eric Hayes, Landon Milbourne, and especially Greivis Vasquez to cap off Senior Night at College Park: a 79-72 win over No. 4 Duke.

After jumping out to a big lead early in the first half -- and eventually blowing that lead -- Maryland went toe-to-toe with Duke in the second half, trading blow after blow and basket after basket before finally pulling away in the game's final minute. And it was only fitting that Vasquez was the guy to hit an almost impossible running jumper -- over Jon Scheyer, no less -- with about 40 seconds left to go put the game away.

The Terps shot 50 percent from the field (more on their offense in a minute), but this game was won on the defensive end. Maryland held Duke to 39.4 percent shooting and didn't allow another Duke player other than their big three of Scheyer (19 points on 7-21 shooting), Kyle Singler (14 points on 5-14 shooting), and Nolan Smith (20 points on 7-17 shooting) to reach double digits. In fact, the next highest scorer after those three was Andre Dawkins with six points. The Terps played outstanding team defense and didn't let Duke get into much of a rhythm, other than when Duke had a stretch of five straight made three-pointers late in the first half and early in the second half. Want proof? Duke only had eight assists while committing eight turnovers. The majority of their buckets came on isolation drives, rebound put-backs, and drive-and-kicks for threes. Not many of them came easily; Maryland made them work.

The Terps also fought hard in the rebounding department. They held a rebounding edge after an energetic first half but started to get pushed around a bit early in the second half, particularly by Brian Zoubek (13 rebounds). But, as usual, the Terps battled back and started to box out and finished the game with the same number of rebounds as Duke (34).

On offense, Maryland shot the ball extremely well. Every starter except for Milbourne finished the game in double figures, and Adrian Bowie chipped in a much-needed nine points off the bench, making all four of his shots. The Terps had a bit of a lull when Duke switched to a zone defense, which forced Maryland into less efficient possessions and poorer shot selection. But even though the Terps didn't record a high number of assists (14) and turned the ball over a little too much (11 times), they still moved the ball well and ran the flex to perfection at times, particularly down the stretch to get solid looks in crunch time.

Individually, Jordan Williams probably had the best game for Maryland, scoring 15 points on nine shots and grabbing an important 11 rebounds. He also blocked three shots and threw down a monster dunk over Scheyer. Vasquez finished with 20 points, five assists, and four rebounds, and at least three big buckets down the stretch. Hayes had an efficient 13 points (6-8 from the field), and Mosley added 11.

By the way, the Terps hit 17 of 19 free throws, which is really, really good.

As for what happens after this game, Maryland plays at Virginia on Saturday, while Duke ends the season on Saturday at home against North Carolina. If both teams win, they'll be co-ACC regular-season champions. Today's win was awesome, but for it to mean a little more, the Terps need to focus on Virginia and take care of business.

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